A-level results 2023

What schools need to know about clearing, and how they can help

Teachers are best placed to support students by knowing the three different clearing personas, says Clare Marchant

Teachers are best placed to support students by knowing the three different clearing personas, says Clare Marchant

16 Aug 2023, 10:40

Results day is right around the corner and is a huge milestone for students, as well as the schools, teachers and advisers supporting them.

Come results day, students will be looking for support and guidance to help with their choices. A great way to help give the best possible guidance is to be clued up on all of the options for students looking to start university or college in the Autumn.

Whether students have received their predicted, better or lower grades, there will be lots of options for those who would like to start university in the Autumn, via clearing, with almost 28,000 courses available.

Clearing has transformed in recent years. Last year, record numbers of UK 18-year-olds secured a place in clearing (direct and main scheme) – 34,875 – which is an increase from 26,305 in 2021, and 34,370 in 2019.

Clearing is changing, as 2022 demonstrated. It ultimately enables any student to re-evaluate their choice, whether they have received their predicted, better or lower grades, or if a student has only just decided they would like to start a course this autumn.

So how can you help your students use and navigate the tens of thousands of courses available in clearing this summer?

Ahead of results day tomorrow, teachers and advisers are best placed to support students by knowing the three different clearing personas and the different requirements of each.

The Mind Changers

They decline their offers, join Clearing voluntarily and use it to find a better outcome

Clearing is no longer viewed as a route only for students who do not get the grades they were hoping for. Teachers can support prospective students to use clearing to give themselves greater choice, more flexibility, and extra security for their own futures.

Applicants are using clearing voluntarily to change their mind and search for alternative options. Last year, 20,000 applicants who used ‘decline my place’ to voluntarily enter clearing went on to secure a place.

If students decide that they no longer want to progress to their firm choice, they can ‘decline my place’, which puts choice and autonomy in the students’ hands.

This tool is also used by students if they have received better-than-expected results and are looking for the opportunity to ‘trade-up’, as well as by students who change their mind about the course or location they initially applied to.

UCAS’ survey results show almost one in four applicants (22%) are considering entering clearing if they receive better grades, to look for alternative universities who still have places available on their preferred course and may now consider them with their higher grades.

The Direct Routers

They don’t apply until July and do so directly through clearing

The final date to apply for up to five courses at the same time was 30 June. Applicants who apply after this deadline are entered directly into clearing, which this year opened on 5 July.

Universities and colleges will fill any places remaining during that time – teachers and students should be aware that the most selective courses do get filled quickly, so students need to act quickly in order to give themselves the best chance of getting an offer.

Last year, 16,600 students who applied after the 30 June deadline went on to be placed in clearing.

For applicants looking to apply directly this year, they first need to register and make an application.

Once students have submitted their application, they can start searching for universities and courses with vacancies and add a choice.

The Still Searching

They aren’t accepted and enter clearing to search for a course

Applicants can enter clearing due to not being accepted at the university or college of choice.

Of the 21,000 who found themselves unplaced on results day in 2022, 12,000 used clearing to search for and secure their place.

On results day, advisers can log into the Adviser Portal from 7am to see the status of their students and start preparing their targeted support and guidance.

Students can then log into hub at 8am and start researching and contacting universities to discover their options.

It is important to remember that there are no restrictions on the number of conversations that students can have with universities or colleges during clearing.

Students can shop around and have multiple conversations with several universities and colleges before making their decision.

If a student finds themselves in clearing, UCAS will personally match them to courses they might be interested in, using what is known about them from their application, and what universities and colleges are looking for.

And on results day, students will receive an email from UCAS tailored to them, which will clearly outline their next steps and other options they may want to consider.

Clearing offers students a valid route to university and can provide them with a fantastic opportunity to access universities and apprenticeships they might not even have thought about.

There is lots of help and advice for students on The UCAS Hub from students and experts who’ve been there and done it, including UCAS’ Streetview video series and Clearing Choices podcasts.

The Adviser Hub is a dedicated space with resources for teachers and advisers, including our new Parent Podcast which gives some key information to all the parents, guardians and carers who are supporting students receiving results later this week.

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